Friday, 30 June 2017

Finished Pillow

I thought I'd try to do some embroidery when we were down south last winter. I bought a kit that had several stitches I could try out. It stitched up really quickly.
There was lots of extra yarn left over but no dark brown was provided for the trunk so I left it as is.

Kristen Nicholas has similar patterns and offers a kit for her Circles Sampler Pillow with everything needed to make an 18" x 18" pillow except the hoop, backing fabric and piping, and the pillow form. If you don't like the turquoise fabric, you just need to let her know what colour you would prefer and she'll send it instead. For $46US, it's a good deal. You can't buy a finished designer pillow for that.
I blocked my embroidery last week and recently purchased the fabric for the backing, a 14" pillow form (with a discount coupon at Michaels), cording to make piping and bias tape to match the backing so I could make the piping.

After watching numerous videos on creating a pillow cover, I made one yesterday.
I used a contrasting fabric for the back.
Initially, I used that fabric for the sashing around the stitchery but it was TOO MUCH! I raided my stash and found a fat quarter of the plainer yellow fabric that just happened to match the piping. I carefully used my seam ripper to free the stitchery from the wild, printed fabric and cut strips from the plainer fat quarter and installed that sashing instead. That added about a half an hour to the project but I was pleased with the result. The salvaged sashing pieces are in my scrap bin and will find a life with some other project.

Making piping is really easy, especially using the bias tape, and a lot less expensive than buying it ready-made - if you can even find the colour you need. It's also very easy to make custom bias tape with bias strips of the desired fabric.However, the bias tape I selected was too wide so I had to trim it and got to use my 1/2" ruler for the first time.

The piping is first attached to the front of the pillow with raw edges matching. I then installed a lapped zipper on the back and trimmed the back to match the front. (I didn't get a shot of the flat backing piece with the zipper installed).

I could have used an invisible zipper but I thought that would be a bit difficult getting it to butt against the piping. It was really easy to just lap the larger piece over the smaller piece that had one side of the zipper attached. This video was really helpful outlining the steps for installing the zipper. The full video covering all the steps for making a pillow cover is here.
Then with the zipper undone part way and the right sides together, I stitched around the pillow back, again, butting right up against the piping I had attached to the front. I clipped the corners at a 45 degree angle and turned the pillow cover right side out. Voilà! It was finished.

I stuffed the pillow form in,
zipped it up and it was done.
Here it is with all its pillow friends.
I have a finished needlepoint kicking around somewhere in my 'office' that I need to unearth. I now have the confidence to be able to finish it  nicely into a pillow cover after acquiring appropriate backing and piping fabric.

Making and adding the piping was really easy. I'm glad I 'went for it' and got the pillow finished.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Eureka! (I Have Found It!)

I like to wear some pieces of jewelry all the time - rings, watch, earrings, and occasionally a rope chain bracelet or my Pandora bracelet. Occasionally I lose an earring which really bums me out. Most recently one was lost our last day on South Padre Island. I suspect the right earring flipped out of my earlobe when I was putting on or taking off my binoculars for the last time and I only discovered the loss after we had driven a few hundred kilometres on our route home.

Some time ago, I noticed that I couldn't find my beloved Pandora bracelet. I knew it had to be somewhere in the house as it has a very secure clasp and could not have fallen off when I was wearing it away from home. It has several charms/beads that I bought on our trip to Italy when I found landmark Tedora beads which are compatible for Pandora bracelets.

I have hunted high and low, to no avail. If I allowed myself to dwell on the loss, it would make me very sad. Today, I was rooting around in my jewelry case in which I've searched for my bracelet several times and lo and behold! I found my bracelet! It was hiding under a rather large Peanuts watch. Yay!! I have no idea why I didn't find it before now as I'm pretty good at finding things (as I'm often misplacing stuff or finding stuff Skip has misplaced).

I'm so happy I found it with the all the souvenir charms.
Irish charm, Caribbean island charm, camera 

Il Duomo, cruise ship, Ponte Vecchio, Il Giglo (trademark of Florence)
La Bocca della Verità, Pantheon, suitcase, Colosseum
 I'm so relieved. When I go out with my sorority sisters, we all wear our Pandora bracelets. Now I can wear mine again!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Baby Bionic Gear Bag

A year ago I attended a stitching retreat with some of my embroidery guild members. Also in attendance at the camp were a bunch of quilters. We had a chance to view their activities and several of the ladies had these nifty zippered bags that held all kinds of their sewing tools and accessories. I learned it was called the Bionic Gear Bag. The pattern is sold on Craftsy by Sally Thompson.
I was intrigued.

After buying the pattern ($17.23 Cdn or about $13US), I found out that the entire package was 82 pages long!! The first 36 are instructions for the BGB,  some photos, and the printable template for one pattern piece.

The rest of the pages are detailed instructions for making a zipped 'dumpling dish'. I made one of those a while back and would try another scaling the pattern larger.
I use it for my Wonder Clips (which I bought on eBay for a fraction of what Clover charges).
In the same vein, Craftsy offers a free pattern for a Notions Fabric Dish, also designed by Sally, and which I have also made.
It's reversible!
Both the dumpling dish and fabric dish are designed to go in the front of the full-sized BGB.

I did some more sleuthing and learned that the BGB is just a modification of the Sew Together bag by Sewdemented.

With further research I learned that Sally is having an online feud with someone who has posted a helpful video on how to cut out, assemble, and sew the BGB. Sally does not have videos on the subject posted yet and for a significant fee, they will be made available. I wasn't intrigued.

With the Sew Together videos, the other video, and Sally's long-winded instructions, I decided to make the Baby BGB as a warmup to the big one. The 'pattern' cost an additional $3.95US, It is available to BGB pattern owners, and is only one page which includes cutting instructions and one template for the sides. There are no assembly instructions - it simply refers the sewist to the BGB instructions. It has one zipped pocket, and like the BGB, a foldout front.

I raided my stash for some cute fat quarters that would go together and after several hours, came up with this. I quilted the outer fabric. In the future, I would use puffier batting.
Unzipped, it sits up. Somehow the fabrics go together. The 'bowling ball' sides were in the same fat quarter set as the bowling bag outer fabric.

And here it is with the one zipper pocket unzipped. 
... and with some sewing accessories in it...
It's 6 1/2" wide (excluding the outer zipper) and 4" high - significantly smaller than the BGB.

I did use a medium interfacing on all the pieces except the binding and yellow pocket lining. I erroneously interfaced the 4 side pieces instead of just the two outer ones, making for quite stiff side pieces. Hopefully next time I'll get it right.

I also hand-stitched the binding to the back as I tried to machine stitch it and didn't like the look of it. IMHO, hand-stitching looks a lot neater. I know some people have made a bunch of these to give to friends but I doubt I'll follow that plan. I'm a really slow (but accurate) sewist and spent several hours making this one. However, I now feel ready to tackle a full-sized BGB.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Trillium Embroidery Guild June Meeting

Our June Trillium Embroidery Guild meeting is always a pot luck (finger foods) meeting where we determine the executive for the next year, display our themed projects, award prizes, display our 'show and tell' items, and decide the theme for next year.

For 'show and tell' Jeanette stitched this beautiful sampler. She, like I, stitched several samplers this year.

She also stitched these adorable shirts.

This was also a project I saw her working on last fall at Elim as well as more recently. That pinwheel in the centre looked really challenging.

I was the only one to have the armchair caddy done for tonight's meeting. It was a big hit. This was the stitchalong project this year.  A couple of people told me they were now inspired to finish theirs.

I also brought in the two Prairie Schooler samplers I stitched this year.

The very cute puffin pin cushion was a favour that each participant got at the Embroiderer's Association of Canada seminar in Newfoundland last month. Evidently the hosts created 150 of them and each one had different embroidery on the back. A similar pattern for a chicken pin cushion can be found on Pinterest.
These were our TATA (Trillium Annual Themed Award) entrants in the charted/adapted chart category.
This was stitched over one thread and as can be seen in the photo above, was quite small.
It wasn't hard for me to tell that Jen1 stitched this one. She has quite a passion for all things Star Trek. It, too, was stitched over one thread.
This Strawberry Fields by Drawn Thread won the award in this category.
I now realize I should remove the glass for my sampler as it has squashed the French knots on the sheep.
This was the winner for the technical prize - a beautiful sampler with beads designed by Eleanor.
Diane won the award for the original design with her cute, bumble bee pillow. Here she is with the other winners.
And here we all are with our pieces. I'm not sure why I didn't get good individual shots of Bernie's and Alda's pieces. Compared to some other years, I believe there was good participation in this years 'competition'.
We all made suggestions for next year's theme and the winner was 'animals'. It will be open to any living being - mammals, fish, birds, etc.

Taking a 'Stab' at Crewel Work

Earlier this year, I decided to try some crewel work and purchased a commercial kit for starters. It is the Dimensions Handmade Embroidery kit #72-73729. The kit was complete with the printed fabric, wool yarn, a needle, and the printed instructions.

It stitched up pretty quickly and finally yesterday, I blocked it in preparation to turn it into a pillow.
The design itself is 9" x 9" but I will add a border/sashing to bring it out to 14 or 15 inches to fit a regular pillow form. It was fun to do and now I'm inspired to dig up the needlepoint piece that I did and blocked years ago and make it into a pillow, too.

The search is on to find an appropriate fabric for the border, piping and back.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Guild Project - Armchair Caddy

This year I actually completed the Trillium Embroidery Guild's stitch along project - a stitcher's armchair caddy. Each month we received instructions and charts and a demo of how to accomplish the task. I was away for several meetings but was able to keep up with help from Jen1 and other guild members who emailed me information and photos as required.

At our May meeting, Carol went through the steps to assemble and finish our caddy. I finished the last of the stitching the other night and today decided to finish it. I raided my fabric stash for two fabrics that I thought would go with the colours I had picked and each other.

I cut out the padding and two fabrics for the main piece. I decided to quilt them so used the lines on my cutting mat as a guide for the 30 degree angle.
I quilted parallel lines 2" apart, aligning sticky notes with the ruler.
Then stitched each line beside the sticky notes. It saved me having to mark on the fabric.
The easy way I used to put the first line through the centre was making sure the piece was square on the mat, putting a pin through the centre of the piece then making sure it was somewhere on the 30 degree line.
I decided to press the cross-stitched piece before cutting them out forgetting that the cutting lines were drawn on the fabric with heat erasable pen. Oops! No problem, I just put the embroidery on a cookie tin and threw it in the freezer for a few minutes and the cutting lines reappeared. Phew! Lesson learned, don't use erasable pen on anything that might show in the cold. It's fine for cutting lines though.

I worked through the various steps lining each pocket piece, making binding for both pockets from strips of fabric, making binding for the periphery of the entire piece from strips of fabric I sewed together.

Carol's instructions were pretty clear but I was glad I had seen her demonstrate the assembly first.

I sewed, then stuffed the needle roll tightly. I probably should have heeded her suggestion to add extra width to the needle roll. Instead, I just trimmed away about 1/8" on each side of the main piece so the raw edges of the needle roll would comfortably reach the outer edges.
I also lined the scissor pocket and top-stitched it. I forgot to change the bobbin thread when I sewed it onto the main piece below the needle row so there's a bit of a contrast on the back. Oh well.  We were given a piece of tubing to fill the binding for the thread-catcher pocket so it would stay open. I trimmed the tubing a bit so I wouldn't be stitching right on it.
I then sewed the binding all around the piece, anchoring all the pockets and needle roll. Then brought the binding around to the back and hand-stitched it down, neatly finishing the back. (You can barely see the white thread I had in the bobbin when I stitched down the scissor pocket.)

The scissor pocket is just the right size. I like how its butterfly colour matches the binding fabric. I added little black beads at the end of its antennae.
 Those of us who cross-stitched our projects (an embroidered version was also an option) were given a chart for our initial. I changed my mind several times about what colour to do the flowers and finally picked a caramel shade. I used yellow French knots for the centres of the flowers.
It will be a very useful item for my stitching, making it easy to grab the scissors, park my needles, and toss in my thread bits.
I have to admit, it took the better part of my day, but I'm very pleased with the result.
I'm looking forward to showing it off at Wednesday's meeting.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Variegated Crescent Swallowtail

I started another crescent Swallowtail shawl. This time I used Yarn Indulgences 'Indulgent Fingering' 100% Superwash Merino wool in the 'Swamp Thing' colourway.

It knit up really quickly.
Once again, the 34 row garter stitch tab prevented that strange peak in the middle of the neck.
I knit the budding lace with 4mm needles and went up to 4.5 for the rest.
Although the yarn was tonal, there was enough contrast to visually detract slightly from the impact of the lace.
It will need to be worn over a white or black shirt for the full effect. I didn't modify it except for the knitted picot bindoff where I casted on 2 and bound off 5, making sure a picot was at the bottom of a knit stitch 'column' in the border.
I could have done at least one more repeat of the budding lace before starting the Lily of the Valley chart. There were 27g of yarn left. I used slightly under 300yd of the 428 yd.  I almost ripped it back to end of the budding lace to add at least one other repeat but decided to move forward and finish it off.
Next time, I'll use a more solid yarn or at least one with less contrast.